✅The pilot and photo journalist on board were killed

✅The helicopter went down in a hard to reach area

✅Video showed debris scattered on the ground and a small fire

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP (Burlington) — The helicopter used by Philadelphia's 6ABC Action News crashed Tuesday night in New Jersey's Wharton State Forest killing two people on board.

The helicopter was returning from an assignment on the Jersey Shore around 8 p.m. when the crash happened, according to a report by the station. New Jersey State Park Police said they were notified of a missing helicopter around 10:55 p.m. and a debris field was located just after midnight in the area of Mullica River Road.

Due to the remote location of the crash and limited visibility, the investigation was suspended until after daybreak, according to New Jersey State Park Police. The Federal Aviation Administration arrived early Wednesday morning. The National Transportation System will lead the investigation.

Video of the crash shows debris scattered on the ground and a small fire in the area where the helicopter went down. According to FlightAware.com, the helicopter left Philadelphia Northeast Airport at 7:23 p.m. It had made three earlier short flights each lasting approximately an hour Tuesday.

New Jersey State Park Police Wednesday afternoon identified the pilot as Monroe Smith, 67, of Glenside, Pennsylvania and the photographer was 45-year-old Christopher Dougherty of Oreland, Pennsylvania. They were described by 6ABC Action News as having a long history with the station and have been working as part of the Action News team for years.

Map shows crash site of Chopper 6 in Wharton State Forest 12/20/23
Map shows crash site of Chopper 6 in Wharton State Forest 12/20/23 (Canva)

Hard to reach area

New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said that winds had calmed Tuesday evening compared to earlier in the day, a nearby weather station at Oswego Lake recorded gusts in the 12 to 18 mph range.

"Not quite calm, but not strong enough to cause significant problems for aircraft," Zarrow said.

State Park Police said Quaker Bridge Atsion Road, Mullica River Road, Middle Road and the Mullica River hiking trail are all closed Wednesday morning.

The helicopter, a 2013 American Eurocopter AS-350A-STAR, is leased by the station from North Carolina-based U.S. Helicopters.

This is a breaking story. Check back for additional details.

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Gallery Credit: Dan Zarrow